Drowned child called 'sweet, sweet boy'

Accident caused by seizure in family pool
Jun. 20, 2014 @ 08:11 AM

Along with his family, those who knew 11-year-old Marcus DeBeve Jr. are mourning his drowning in his family's swimming pool Wednesday afternoon.

Shannon Pennell, a neighbor, said she has fond memories of her 6-year-old daughter, Lexi, playing with Marcus.

"He was really sweet, sweet kid," said Pennell, who arrived home around 4 p.m. Wednesday after grocery shopping to find the street lined with emergency vehicles. "You could tell he was a good big brother."

Donna Wilkinson, another neighbor, said Marcus loved animals.

"He was a doll, such a cute kid," Wilkinson said. "I enjoyed watching him play with the neighborhood kids."

Marcus lived at 4578 Miller Court, near Granite Falls, with mother Amanda Ward, stepfather Robert Ward, a 2-year-old brother and grandmother Stephanie Smith, neighbors said.

Marcus, who would have turned 12 on Aug. 23, suffered a seizure that led to his drowning, county officials said. Neighbors said Marcus often wore a patch over one eye to help prevent the visual stimuli that could trigger his seizures.

After learning of Marcus' death, officials from Dudley Shoals Elementary and Horizons Elementary in Hudson, which he attended, and Granite Falls Middle School, where he would have begun sixth grade this fall, sent the family messages of condolensences. Neighbors similarly said they are concerned about the family.

"It's a total shock," Wilkinson said. "We're all really tore up about it here, just thinking what his parents will be going through."